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  • Writer's pictureMeredith Knauer

Is ADHD a Superpower?

By: Meredith Knauer

Throughout my time browsing internet forums, blogs, and articles, and looking for opinions, stories, and research concerning ADHD, I have come across plenty of people who both vehemently support and disapprove of the idea that ADHD is in its own way a superpower.

Both groups have very good points. ADHD causes a lot of distress and can seriously impede on someone's life. Thinking of this disorder as a superpower can have dangerous consequences. Using language like this can further the narrative that ADHD isn't real or that people with ADHD just need to suck it up and learn how to be a functioning member of society because clearly they aren't trying. However, solely taking this approach also ignores the positive things that can come with ADHD. Studies show that people with ADHD are more creative (depending on your definition of creativity). We also know that people with ADHD can be incredibly passionate and enthusiastic. That passion, should we find it, can lead to incredibly successful careers. Hyperfocus can allow us to plow through projects in a single day.

Obviously, there are real struggles, AND there are real advantages. Superpowers exhibit the same traits. Think of the X-Men. Cyclops can save people and catch villains with his laser vision. At the same time, if he didn't have his glasses, he wouldn't be able to look at anything without accidentally slicing a building (or worse, a person) in half. Rogue has the ability to absorb memories, personality traits, talents, and energy with a simple touch. She's a logistical gold mine and her power is so versatile. At the same time, for most of the comic book series, she couldn't control her power and as a teenager kissed a boy and rendered him unconscious for the rest of his life. Phoenix, a powerful empath, became incredibly traumatized as a child when her powers first activated. Her friend died in a car accident, and she was able to feel everything. Wolverine accidentally killed his childhood companion, Rose, with his claws. Storm, arguably one of the strongest X-Men, can control weather so well that she can pull the air from a person's lungs. She can control solar wind and ocean currents, but her power is highly dependent on her emotions so she suppresses them so she doesn't accidentally summon a hurricane. Shadowcat (or Kitty Pride) went through a multi-year period where she would constantly phase through objects unless she consciously chose not to.

I could go on and on about all of the X-men and the pros and cons of their powers, but there is a pattern here. All of these super heroes had to harness and control their powers in order to use them the way they wanted to.

ADHD, just like mutant abilities, can be harnessed as well. You just have to think about what your strengths are and compensate for the shortcomings. Cyclops has his ruby glasses for his laser vision, and ADHDers have timers and alarms for our time blindness. Shadowcat couldn't turn off her powers for years, and I imagine it would be hard to get a good night's sleep when you fall right through everything you touch. ADHDers might not be able to turn off their hyperfocus, and while it's helpful for getting things done, it can also lead to you not eating for several hours.

All of these mutants had to get to know their abilities. They had to learn their limits and they practiced controlling their powers. In order to harness your ADHD, you need to get to know your brain. How does it work? What habits do you already have? What do you tend to do? What do you like, and what do you struggle with? How long can you work in one sitting without getting distracted? How do you know when you're approaching burnout or need a brain break?

ADHD really is a superpower, and with great power comes great responsibility. If you're interested in help with training your superpowers, reach out for a free consultation! I'd be happy to talk with you about how we can work together.

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